HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Mariel of Redwall
Author: Brian Jacques
Illustrator: Gary Chalk
Publisher: Firebird, republished 2003
Related website(s): http://www.penguinputnam.com (publisher)
Language level: 2
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Ages 8-12
Rating: ***** 5 stars
(5 stars=EXCELLENT; 4 stars=GOOD; 3 stars=FAIR; 2 stars=POOR; 1 star=VERY POOR; no stars=NOT RECOMMENDED)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Jacques, Brian. Mariel of Redwall (published in 1991 by Hutchinson Children’s Books, London, England; republished in 2000 by Ace Books, an imprint of The Berkley Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Putnam Inc., 375 Hudson St., New York City, NY 10014). Bernard is the Father Abbot of Redwall Abbey in peaceful Mossflower Woods. One summer a young mousemaid who does not recall who she is or where she comes from but calls herself Storm Gullwhacker, washes up on shore after a storm at sea and finds her way to Redwall. With the help of the blind healer Simeon, she finally remembers that she is Mariel, the daughter of Joseph the Bellmaker. While they were on their way to deliver a new bell to Lord Rawnblade Widestripe, the badger who rules Salamandastron mountain, they were captured by a pirate named Gabool the Wild, King of the Searats, and taken to his stronghold of Fort Bladegrit on Terramort Island. In an attempt to force Joseph to build him a tower for the bell, Gabool pushed Mariel off a cliff into the stormy sea, but she survived.
Once her memory is restored, Mariel leaves with two young Redwallers and a traveling hare to see if her father is still alive and to take vengeance on Gabool. Meanwhile, Lord Rawnstripe sets out to find his missing bell, and a band of Gabool’s pirates under Captain Graypatch find their way to Mossflower and seek to capture Redwall. Can Redwall be saved from the attack? Will Mariel be able to find her father? And what happens to Gabool and the bell? It has been a long time since I have read a Redwall novel. Book 4 of 22 in the “Redwall Abbey” Series, Mariel is vintage Redwall with a strong good versus evil themed plot in which, while there are some setbacks, disappointments, and occasions of sadness along the way, good eventually triumphs over evil. The only negative for me was that the word “Hell” is found rather frequently in various casual constructions, usually by the bad guys. It is not necessarily used as a curse word, but it is still there to be planted in the minds of young readers.
Not everyone likes Redwall. One reviewer called it “a total grade school type of theme,” saying, “I mean, who can relate to and understand a pack of mice?” I’m sorry, but that’s what Redwall is all about. If you read Redwall, expect a story about mice. If you don’t like reading about mice, then don’t bother with Redwall. And yes, it is a grade school theme, but even adults can enjoy it. Also, some who like Redwall don’t like Mariel, complaining that “this particular installment does suffer a bit from the same-y factor Redwall has going for it.” But that “same-y factor” is the appeal of the whole series—you know precisely what you’re going to get even before you start. Although this book is definitely fantasy, the characters still illustrate many valuable lessons in kindness, ethics, bravery, friendship, and love. Compared to much of the sheer drivel that is passed off as “relevant” children’s literature today, I’ll take Redwall any day. Eulaliaaaaaa!